The Faribault Falcon softball team opened their season under the dome roof at Wescott Field in Austin Tuesday and came home 10-6 winners.  Dome ball is definitely a different brand of ball.  Falcon junior pitcher McKayla Armbruster went the distance and scattered 7 hits while striking out 12.  She uncharacteristically had 4 walks in the game.

Faribault Head Coach Chris Silber told KDHL after the game he didn't think Armbruster had 10 walks the entire season last year.  There were certainly pitches that looked like they should have been called strikes but I thought the umpire was consistent with his strike zone throughout the game.

When the game started it looked like the Falcons were going to run away with the contest.  They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added another run in the second to take a 5-0 lead.  Senior Ali Schak started the game with a one hop bouncer  over the outfield fence for a ground rule double.  Armbruster followed with a two strike RBI double and Faribault was picking up with the same hitting stroke that made them one of the most feared lineups in the Big Nine last season.

Senior Bre Bresnahan slapped a RBI single to right field against Austin starter, 8th grader Jaeda Bekaert.  Following senior cleanup hitter Cassie Swanson's ground out junior catcher Abby Van Ryn clubbed an RBI double.

After a trip to the pitching circle by Austin softball coaching legend Al Eckmann, junior third baseman Ellie Knutson plated Van Ryn's courtesy runner sophomore Abby Lake with a ground out.  Seven players went to the plate for Faribault in the first, four runs scored on four hits including three doubles.

In the bottom of the first Armbruster saw the top of the order begin with back to back singles, both on two strikes before she retired the next three batters.

In the top of the second senior left fielder Camryn Salmonsen led the inning off with a double and Schak followed up with her second double for an RBI.  The Falcons would not score again until the last inning.

Meanwhile Armbruster walked the number nine hitter to start the bottom of the third inning and then walked the top batter in the Packer order.  Both were quality at bats by Austin.  9 pitches thrown to the number nine batter and 8 pitches to the top person in the batting order.

Following Armbruster's fourth strikeout of the game sophomore Packer catcher Jordyn McCormack hit a laser line drive that skimmed off the top of the outfield fence for a three run homer.  McCormack hit another homer to right field in the bottom of the seventh and accounted for all six runs the Packers scored.  Two homers and a double for six RBI's is not a bad day at the plate.

Austin scored a run in the fifth to make the score 5-4 at the time.

Meanwhile the Falcon bats were silenced with just two hits in innings three through six against two different pitchers.

Bekaert was lifted in the fifth when Armbruster led the inning of with a walk and Bresnahan stepped to the plate.  I'm sure Coach Eckmann remember in Bre's previous at bat against the eight grader she missed a home run by about a foot with a ball caught at the fence.  In came junior Kennedy Bradford for the Packers and Bresnahan was safe on a fielder's choice grounder where Austin got the first out with Armbruster's courtesy runner sophomore Lindsay O'Neil thrown out trying to go to second on the Bresnahan grounder.  Bresnahan stole second base and was stranded at third following back to back ground outs to end the inning.

Bradford gave up a single by Knutson to start the sixth inning but she was stranded at third.

I should have timed it but there had to be at least a 10 minute delay in the game when the bottom of the sixth began and the Falcon coaches realized that Austin had been using their flex player as a designated player.

In fastpitch the flex player is a defensive player and the designated player is basically the same as baseball's designated hitter.

The flex player was listed in the number six spot in the batting order hitting for the pitcher.  Coach Eckmann wanted his starting pitcher to move into that spot but because she was listed as a flex player she could only hit (as it was explained to me) in the bottom of the order even though the flex player had previously batted sixth in the order.

Now you know why the umpires were as confused as the coaches and the broadcaster was scratching his bald head trying to figure out why the Packers got to bat out of order when the bottom of the inning started.

Coach Eckmann clearly wanted his flex player in the lineup to be the designated player (DH) for the pitcher but he did not enter it that way on his lineup card.

The Falcons erupted for five runs in the seventh with the big blow a three run homer by senior Claire Drentlaw.  Schak started the inning with a walk.  Armbruster beat out a bunt for a hit to place runners at the corners with no outs when Bresnahan attempted to bunt and took the pitch because it was outside.  Schak had ventured too far off the bag and the Austin catcher threw the ball to third.  Schak tried to score but was easily thrown out at the plate.

Bresnahan then clubbed a RBI triple and ended up scoring when the Packers had trouble getting the ball into the infield.

Van Ryn collected her third hit of the day and Knutson her second hit before Drentlaw's three run homer.

Our Faribault State Farm Insurance Agents Faribault players of the game were Armbruster, Bresnahan and Drentlaw.  Thanks to Faribault State Farm agents Jason Krohn and Tony Langerud.

The Falcons scored 10 runs on 13 hits and had no errors while leaving 5 runners on base, 4 in scoring position.

Austin tallied 6 runs on 7 hits with no errors and stranded 5 runners, two in scoring position.

The Falcons are scheduled to play at New Prague Friday.  The Trojans were ranked in the final poll of last season 8th in Class 4A.

Austin was playing their fourth game already this season thanks to their dome where all the games have been played thus far.  The Packers are 2-2 after sweeping Century to start the season by scores of 6-4 and 13-3 they fell to Northfield 10-9 before last night's loss.

In other Big Nine action Tuesday night Mankato West rolled by Rochester Century 10-0 in the Rochester dome to improve to 2-0 and drop the Panthers to 0-3.

Monday Rochester John Marshall defeated Mankato East 11-2 and Mankato East cruised by Rochester Mayo 11-3 in the Rochester dome.

Austin Wescott Field Dome Entrance. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld